SUPER GT, DTM bosses meet to discuss successor to Class 1 cars
The promoters of SUPER GT and DTM have held a preliminary meeting to discuss a successor to their jointly-created Class 1 regulations amid the changing landscape in motorsport and the wider automotive industry.
Masaaki Bandoh, chairman of SUPER GT promoter GTA, travelled to the ADAC’s headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany on February 28 to pitch a new category of cars that would sit above current GT3 machinery.
The idea is to come up with a set of regulations that will be attractive to championships across the globe, including IMSA in North America, thus making each series more viable to manufacturers.
SUPER GT and DTM previously worked together on the Class 1 rules and even held a successful joint race at Fuji Speedway in 2019, but the exit of Audi after 2020 forced the DTM to switch to a cheaper GT3-based customer formula, leaving SUPER GT as the only championship running Class 1 machinery.
Bandoh, however, feels there is scope for another international tie-up of the same mould in the future, as he eyes a replacement for the current GT500 cars that form the top class of SUPER GT that would come into play in 2028 or '29.
"In Europe [DTM] they are using GT3 cars as the base, but above that is what we are doing with GT500, or what used to be called Class 1,” said Bandoh.
“In the current situation, I don't think any overseas maker will produce a GT500 car, but if we can progress with talks for new environmental and safety regulations, I don't see why we can't make a category above GT3, like a 'new GT500'.
“Class 1 was basically a proposal from the ITR, which we got on board with and did together, but then they changed the rules [to GT3 cars] and they just became our GT500 regulations.
“But if we can find a way to reduce carbon emissions without increasing costs, we can make something a step higher than GT3. That's what we all think, and that's what I want to consider [together] in future."
Tsugio Matsuda, NISMO Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500, Benoit Treluyer, WRT Hitotsuyama Team Audi Sport Audi RS5 DTM
Photo by: Andy Chan
For his part, ADAC Motorsport director Thomas Voss said there is an extra impetus for a manufacturer to build cars to a new set of regulations if they can be raced in multiple series around the world.
It follows the World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship agreeing to a convergence of rules, with their respective top classes now running the same LMDh and LMH cars.
"Isolated solutions no longer make sense," said Voss. "A manufacturer will not build a car with which it only races in the DTM.
“If it can also race IMSA, SUPER GT and maybe in Australia with the same car, then it's a different challenge for the manufacturer. That's why it makes sense for us [promoters] around the world to ask each other: what are you actually doing?
“The car manufacturers are now waiting for a group of promoters who, also together with the FIA, propose framework conditions for the future.
“We have a clear signal from the car manufacturers: 'Please come to an agreement, because we will not build a separate car for each championship'. That is one of the tasks for the next few years."
While the automotive industry continues to invest billions in electric cars every year, Voss expects combustion engines to continue to play a leading role in motorsport, but with measures to reduce carbon emissions.
SUPER GT has already moved to carbon neutral fuel in 2023, with ETS Racing Fuels supplying 30,000 litres of biomass-derived fuel for the current season.
“[SUPER GT] approached us, and they said, 'We are also a manufacturer-oriented series, where Honda, Nissan and Toyota race against each other'," explained Voss.
"There, too, the manufacturers are going in the direction of sustainability and saying: we have to become greener. And not just doing something for show; we want to be at the forefront of technology.
“That is the opportunity for motorsport. And there we all have the same problems - the Americans, the Japanese, the French and us."
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